McKenna’s delight in designing the raw materials—fabric!—that bring her creations to life has been the impetus for bringing her to the esteemed Robert Kaufman house. Her latest fabric line, and the first line to be offered by Kaufman is Enchanted Pines, a gorgeous wooded collection that encompasses 12 screen prints and over 60 fabrics. Glassy lake textures, thick pines, and speckled salmon skin are the inspiration for a host of new projects, including Aurora Ridge, which features her famous cast of characters (bears, moose, chickadees, fawns, fish) in settings so lush and serene you are automatically transported into whimsical and charming, “McKenna-Land.”
McKenna’s path to this point has been a deeply personal one, and it begins as all good stories do, with seeds planted in childhood. As a little girl, McKenna’s greatest joy came from immersing herself in nature. She collected driftwood, rocks and wildflowers along the shores of Lake Michigan to create natural one-of-a-kind art pieces. She was an artist and entrepreneur from the very beginning, opening up “shop hours” in her bedroom for her family to buy her original naturally-created art.
She found her true calling as an adult, when she decided to give up a successful corporate lifestyle that had her city-bound, living between Boston and Manhattan, to follow her heart’s longing for a return to life immersed in nature. Her adventure began when she decided to follow that yearning, leading her to the wilds of Montana. It was on the way to her new home that by chance she wandered into a quilt shop for the first time. She was awestruck, and recalls, “It was as if time stood still. The colors, textures and designs of the quilts moved me beyond words and the seeds were planted.”
Quickly, those seeds took root. As she settled into her new community of only 200 residents, (2 ½ hours through the Rocky Mountains to the nearest grocery store!) McKenna was excited to discover that many of the women spent the long wintry months quilting. One blisteringly cold evening, she trudged through the deep snow to take an appliqué quilting class at a neighbor’s house and within hours discovered a passion and talent she had never known before. Just days after learning to quilt, she bought a $50 sewing machine and moved all the furniture out of her bedroom. There McKenna made a studio and began to create one-of-a-kind art pieces inspired by nature.
Living in Glacier National Park, McKenna was profoundly inspired by the natural beauty all around her. She remembers, “I wanted to reflect this, in quilts, but at that time there were few nature-inspired quilt patterns, so I started making my own.” She soon learned that she had an innate sense of color, balance and design that were uniquely her own and decided to start her own design company which she aptly named Pine Needles.
Throughout her body of work, you will find quilt designs that map out her journey and tell her story as an artist. At Home in the Woods, Calling Me Home, Petals of My Heart, True Nature and A Journey to Light are just a sampling of the numerous quilt patterns that were inspired by the different stages and places of her life which have since become classics over the years.
Today, with a lofted showroom in Portland and a website that has become a destination for quilters worldwide, www.pineneedles.com one can truly immerse oneself in the world of McKenna Ryan, where hummingbirds hover over brilliant flowers, elk bugle in lush fabric forests, eagles soar across quilted landscapes and smoke rises wistfully from cabins in the woods. Come in, cozy up, and see why McKenna’s quilt artistry has captivated fans across the globe.
Robert Kaufman Fabrics
from McKenna Ryan